Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

scytheIn late January, I picked up a copy of Scythe by Neal Shusterman at the Texas Council of Teachers of Language Arts because everyone there was buzzing about it. A nice gentleman working for Monkey and Dog Books in Fort Worth had an attractive table set up with copies ready for purchase and because I was so excited to read it, I bought it on the spot. I’m really glad I did; I think it’s Shusterman’s best novel yet!

It’s long – over 400 pages, but worth the time investment. I found myself engrossed in this dystopian society where death due to illnesses or accidents have been eradicated. Scythes make the decisions about who will be gleaned and who will be granted immunity. Just like in the world we are familiar with, there are scythes who are of pure heart and intention and those who glean for the rush of power. Citra and Rowan are chosen, against their will, to be scythe apprentices. They begin their training as strangers working side by side and end up facing off in the most permanent of ways. Shusterman pulls us into this dystopian world where people don’t simply die and nanites heal both emotional and physical pain. The characters, some better developed than others, are cleverly named and beg readers to delve more deeply into their namesakes. I suspect this story will linger with me a long time, but right now it leaves me thinking about Shusterman’s craft and ability to make such a far-fetched story seem possible.

I would recommend this to older fans of The Giver. Note that to be gleaned means to be killed and that is the premise of the book.